Jerry Brewer of The Seattle Times wrote an excellent piece on Pete Carroll and his connection with current Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan. In his book, “Win Forever,” Carroll outlines his decision to join the San Francisco 49ers squad headed by George Seifert over Shanahan’s Denver Broncos.
In Brewer’s article, he takes some clips from “Win Forever” to help tell the story of Carroll’s road and journey to success in coaching.
Carroll has one of the most intriguing success stories in sports, mostly because his start was so rocky. Rarely does a coach fail twice and then turn his career around so dramatically. Carroll is always ready to explain how it happened, hoping to create a wall between his rough past and his remarkable present. His book, “Win Forever,” is, among other things, an exploration of how he evolved into a successful coach, and he included the Denver/San Francisco decision in it.
Why the 49ers? In the book, Carroll describes the Broncos’ job as the more logical choice for a coach trying to rebuild after a firing. In Denver, he could have turned around a bad defense, and it would have been easier to make a grand impression. In San Francisco, the 49ers already had a championship squad, and their defense was an established, veteran unit that Ray Rhodes, who left to be the Philadelphia head coach, did a good job polishing during his one season as defensive coordinator. How could Carroll come in and be considered more than just the play-caller of a ready-made defense?
But after talking with his wife, Glena, Carroll realized why the 49ers’ job was better for him.
“Are you afraid the expectations are too high in San Francisco?” Glena asked Carroll, a story he relayed in “Win Forever.”
That inspired Carroll to accept the challenge. Shanahan, who remembers driving Carroll around the Denver area to look at neighborhoods during their interview, wouldn’t get his man. No bitter feelings, though. Both men wound up succeeding.
“At that time, Pete was running a lot of zone schemes — zone blitzes,” Shanahan said when asked why he wanted Carroll so badly. “Not a lot of people were doing it at that time. Back then, he was ahead of the curve, at least from my perspective.”
It would take the New England failure for Carroll to figure it all out, but soon, he would be ahead of the curve as a head coach, too. He had a dominant run at USC. Now, he and general manager John Schneider are building a championship-caliber team in Seattle.
“I think you’ve got to be yourself,” Shanahan told Washington reporters when asked about Carroll. “That’s what Pete’s done. He’s himself. Everyone knows the job he did at Southern Cal. He’s a guy that’s very enthusiastic in everything he’s done. A good friend.”
He’s a good friend who was almost an incredible co-worker. Of course, the way it turned out, you won’t find Carroll and Shanahan lamenting much about what could have been.
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